This condition, scientifically named congenital keratoconjunctivitis sicca and ichtyosiform dermatosis, seems to be unique to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It should however not be confused with the conventional condition Dry Eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) which afflicts many dogs (purebred or of mixed origin) particularly older dogs nor with other skin issues. Both the dry eye and skin issue are always combined in this condition. Many breeders choose to euthanize these pups as the condition is readily apparent at birth to prevent a lifetime of discomfort.
An extreme form of Dry Eye which affects the puppy almost from birth coupled with a persistent scaly itchy skin starting along the spine to the flanks. The coat is rough and curly (more frizz than curl) and may be accompanied with patches of alopecia. Skin may be hyperpigmented particularly on the belly. The dog may have seborrhea and issues with their teeth, gums and connective tissues. There may be nail growth abnormalities and there may be hyperkeratinized of the foot pads which causes extreme itchiness. This condition may also be accompanied by a “parrot mouth”, extreme overbite.
Treatments are generally ineffectual and euthanasia is often considered the most humane solution. This condition is an autosomal recessive mutation of the FAM83H gene and a DNA test has been developed for the condition at the Animal Health Trust (UK).